Thursday, 31 December 2009

The Second Button

The world can be a terrible and dangerous place. There are so many different subjects to rally against, and it’s important for everyone to take their responsibility as a citizen of the world seriously and make a stand against the wrongs of humanity. For this heartfelt post I have decided not to comment on the perils of social injustice, or poverty, or corruption, or preventable disease or even the ever-spiralling descent of a generation into a world of crime and hopelessness. No, this post is about something else altogether. A little discussed and often over-looked subject; but one that needs bringing to the fore and talking about in an adult and constructive manner.
The second button. There, I’ve said it. The second button down on a man’s shirt. Not a suit shirt that you might wear with a tie. No, the more utilitarian casual shirt. The preserve of a gentleman’s wardrobe for many years.
The question I am asking is, what has happened to the second button down? It seems to have moved, but in the name of all that’s good and holy, why? Goddamit, why? It is now far too high, leaving a generation of men with the terrible conundrum of which buttons to leave undone and which to fasten. The top button, is there for nothing more than decoration. A mere Jason Orange in the world of fashion. No one fastens their top button, unless they are a serial killer or are a self employed IT technician. So that leaves the second button, but now it is too high, so if you only unfasten to there, you look like ‘serial killer lite’. Obviously this is no good, so the only answer is to unbutton to the outer reaches of decency with the third button. But now you are entering a whole new world, and it’s not a world for everyone. Now you are entering David Starsky world. If you unbutton to the third, you had better be damn sure you can carry it off. If you have the hairy chest and confidence of a 1970s detective from southern California then that’s all well and good, but if like me you don’t, you are left in a confusing no man’s land.
So what is the answer to this terrible problem? Do you take a chance, and try a little personality adjustment? Perhaps men up and down the country could try running along the beach very fast, or jumping across car bonnets, but there is an outside chance of looking faintly ridiculous. They could try the subtler approach of sitting with their feet on the desks, chomping away on doughnuts and winking at passing women, but I fear the ugly face of ridiculousness is still close at hand. What about sticking with the second button option and hoping that the serial killer look becomes ‘in vogue’? It’s an option, but not a good one.
The other possibility is that we rebel against the fashionistas, who are clearly having a laugh at our expense. We could set up our own shirt making franchise ‘Shirts for the ordinary man’. It might work, it could work. By God, let’s make it work. This is a call to arms (and body, neck, cuffs and collar) for a disenfranchised generation of men to take matters into their own hands and stand up and be counted. What may start as small band of brothers could grow into an army. An army can grow into a movement and through the powers of the collective spirit we can win. We can design a shirt with a correctly placed second button. A million man army marching down the streets of Britain with banners proudly proclaiming ‘I AM NOT DAVID STARSKY’ or ‘I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER’. We can do it. We just need to believe.
Either that or we could just wear a T-Shirt.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Complaints Choir of Chicago

What more is there to say? It's a choir. From Chicago. With complaints.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

24 Days. 580 hours. 34,800 minutes. 2,088,000 seconds.

That’s the amount of repeats we are being subjected to this Christmas. That’s not over all the multitude of terrestrial and digital channels. Just the four main channels. 24 days of unoriginal, dredged up, bottom of the barrel entertainment to keep us enthralled over the festive period.
Years ago, this would be a golden time for British television. We would have a dry spell in the build up, but then we would be hit between the eyes with several big hitters of shows. It wasn’t just that they were big, but they were new. Fresh from the writer’s pen, a delight of good writing, big name actors and fine acting. What did ITV have to offer on Christmas day this year? An ‘All star Mr & Mrs Christmas Special’ followed by Inspector fucking Poirot. As for BBC2, they presented us with a cutting edge selection of Dad’s Army, Blackadder the Third, a Top Gear repeat and a couple of old men drinking wine and passing wind. Channel Four had a repeated documentary, a repeated Alternative Christmas message, a repeated comedian’s DVD for Christmas performance and a monosyllabic magician standing still inside a giant ice cube (Repeated from the year 2000).
In fairness, BBC1 had a new Royle Family and Gavin & Stacy, but that hardly passes for a night to remember. Why is it such a pitiful offering? Why are the major channels not making new and interesting programmes of note and merit? If you’re interested in the answer, there’s a very thought-provoking article here If you’re not interested in reading it, I dare say you could just as easily pass your time by turning on the old goggle box and relaxing to half an hour of One man and his dog, or a repeated twelve year old topical news quiz.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Bank charges explained

The supreme court, in it's infinite wisdom, has thrown out the case for repaying unfair bank charges. Through another little film I put together through xtranormal, a leading bank manager explains exactly where the money goes.
(Note: This is a reposted and revised, less sweary version)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Young, dumb and.....,well that's it really!

A delightful German teenager gets a little carried away when his computer doesn't play ball!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Train chairman Q&A

A little film that I wrote and put together through
An imagined interview with a train company chairman. Any connections to East Midlands trains are not to be drawn from this.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

"I don't heart Lily Tomlin'

It certainly sounds like director David O Russell isn't totally in love with Lily Tomlin on the this out take. Still, a little motivational talk never hurt anyone. "Stop acting like a f*****g child!" That should do the trick.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Bankers and bum fluff

We are all wondering why the banking system is in such disarray? The country has lost all of its money, and the bankers are busy counting their six figure bonuses while the rest of us convince ourselves that shopping at Lidl and reusing tea bags is actually ok. ‘You know, like it’s been a really valuable experience and everything. It’s made me re-evaluate the meaning of money. I’m more in tune with what’s really important in life.’ Oh please, it’s been bloody awful, and we all know it. I don’t want to be counting the pennies or eating own label baked beans thank you very much. Yes family, health and a roof over our heads are the most important things, but quite frankly the ability to treat ourselves to a takeaway chicken tikka masala with all the trimmings and a nice bottle of wine, when the mood takes are pretty important to me as well. I know, I’m shallow. Good, I like being shallow!
However, we are all being assured the green shoots of recovery are staring to bloom and life will soon be back to some sense of normality within the next twenty years. Phew! This post is nothing to do with the champagne quaffing, bonus-busting bankers; that’s what the Daily Mail is for. No, this is for a completely different type of banker. This is for the ones who decided that the most qualified person to dispense financial advice in times of crisis, is a spotty faced, spiky haired twelve year old, who looks like he should be offering to clean your car for bob a job week. Honestly, I was called in by my bank a little while ago to discuss some personal banking matters. They were probably upset that my account was looking a little battle weary. I duly went in at the agreed time to my nearest branch, expecting to meet a steely eyed, middle aged bank manager who would wag his finger at me, and then set about offering me some well intentioned advice, garnered from his many years of experience. What I wasn’t expecting was to be sat in an open-plan area and have to discuss my most private matters with somebody called Wayne. Wayne, with his over sized suit, fluffy chin and acne pocked chin looked like he would be better suited to giving advice on how to get the best out of your conker performance, not how to live within your means to the bank’s satisfaction.
Now you maybe thinking I’m being a bit harsh on the spotty faced urchin. Don’t confuse youth for inexperience, you might suggest, leave poor Wayne alone. But shall I tell you what pearl of wisdom passed through those youthful, whispery moustache covered lips. Shall I tell you? ‘Perhaps you could try spending a bit less money sir.’ I kid you not, ‘Perhaps you could try spending a bit less money sir.’ This was the best the world’s local bank could offer. Blimey, all the world’s financial ills solved with that one simple statement. It was as if a heavenly light had shone down from above, and bathed his gel-encrusted, spiky hair in a warm bath of genius. Maybe I could try spending a bit less money on my mortgage, or my water, gas, electric, council tax, car tax, train fare, child care or any of the other monthly bills that savage my monthly salary. Perhaps I could try spending a bit less on the food my family digest to stay alive, or the children’s clothes, which they keep annoyingly growing out of. Perhaps I could try spending a bit less on the enormous bank charges which this particular establishment insisted on taking out of my account for looking at my bank balance the wrong way. Or perhaps, this font of all knowledge, with his many years of real life experience, is worried that I am spending too much money on my gold leaf encrusted Osprey egg collection. Does he worry that I might be frittering away my hard earned salary on too many Rembrandts? Surely that can be the only reason older people go through their money. That’s what it is, his worldy-wise maturity, gained through years at the coalface have caught me out. He does indeed know better. From now on, I shall take his advice and spend less money wherever possible. I absolutely promise not to add to my chandelier collection. How’s that Wayne? Any happier?
Of course it’s not really Wayne’s fault; how is he meant to have the abilities to offer any real and constructive advice. It is the fault of the people upstairs, who decided that rather than have our Wayne sort through the leaflets that no one reads, or make the tea, he should be the face of the bank. In future when I’m called in to discuss my money matters, I think I’ll just send in my seven-year-old daughter with her piggy bank, and they can discuss it over a blueberry Hooch.

You're not alright Jack

This is an audio of Jack Palance doing a voiceover. He is not overly enamored with the direction he receives.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Pachelbel Rant

Following on from the musical rant of Dave Carroll, here is an equally entertaining musical tirade from comedian Rob Parovian. He tells how much he hates playing Pachelbel's Canon in D on the cello, and it's far more amusing than it sounds.

Friday, 11 December 2009

A Hunter with a movie executive in his sights

In 2001 notorious author Hunter S Thompson sent a letter to his production executive. The rather angry note concerned the adaptation of his novel The Rum Diary. Progress had been slow, and this had left Mr Thompson a little miffed.

HOLLY SORENSON / Shooting Gallery / Hollywood / Jan 22 '01

Dear Holly,

Okay, you lazy bitch, I'm getting tired of this waterhead fuckaround that you're doing with The Rum Diary.

We are not even spinning our wheels aggresivly. It's like the whole Project got turned over to Zombies who live in cardboard boxes under the Hollywood Freeway... I seem to be the only person who's doing anything about getting this movie Made. I have rounded up Depp, Benicio Del Toro, Brad Pitt, Nick Nolte & a fine screenwriter from England, named Michael Thomas, who is a very smart boy & has so far been a pleasure to talk to & conspire with...

So there's yr. fucking Script & all you have to do now is act like a Professional & Pay him. What the hell do you think Making a Movie is all about? Nobody needs to hear any more of that Gibberish about yr. New Mercedes & yr. Ski Trips & how Hopelessly Broke the Shooting Gallery is.... If you're that fucking Poor you should get out of the Movie Business. It is no place for Amateurs & Dilletants who don't want to do anything but "take lunch" & Waste serious people's Time.

Fuck this. We have a good writer, we have the main parts casted & we have a very marketable movie that will not even be hard to make....

And all you are is a goddamn Bystander, making stupid suggestions & jabbering now & then like some half-bright Kid with No Money & No Energy & no focus except on yr. own tits.... I'm sick of hearing about Cuba & Japs & yr. Yo-yo partners who want to change the story because the violence makes them Queasy.

Shit on them. I'd much rather deal with a Live asshole than a Dead worm with No Light in his Eyes.... If you people don't want to Do Anything with this movie, just cough up the Option & I'll talk to someone else. The only thing You're going to get by quitting and curling up in a Fetal position is relentless Grief and Embarrassment. And the one thing you won't have is Fun...

Okay, That's my Outburst for today. Let's hope that it gets Somebody off the dime. And if you don't Do Something QUICK you're going to Destroy a very good idea. I'm in the mood to chop yr. fucking hands off.




Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hey you. Yes you in seat 41.

Yes you the in the Tesco’s suit and unpleasant blue, patterned tie/shirt combination.  Yes you with your man-bag and tedious looking, pie chart adorned presentation taking up two seats on the busy commuter train. Yes I’m talking to you. When you got on the train this morning, I dare say it was all lovely and quiet, and you probably thought ‘why don’t I just spread out a little? Why don’t I make full use of the available space around me?’ Brilliant, that’s great. Why shouldn’t you? But guess what, when you get to a busy station with hundreds of people running back and forth, thanks to the station announcements being incapable of getting either the platform number or which end first class is right, move your shit.  Is that a lot to ask?

You have probably arrived into a commuter town, full of commuters and guess what they do early in the mornings? That’s right, they commute. And when people commute in large numbers, there is usually a small window of opportunity for them to find a seat. And at that time of the morning, they really want, no need a seat, so that their inescapably tedious journey to work can be just a little bit more bearable. Don’t wait for the marauding hoards to get on and barge little old ladies and the infirm out of the way, in the morning bun fight for said seat. Move your shit now, so it’s ready.

At 7.55am most people will not only sit in the first available space, but also ruthlessly assault with menace, anyone who gets in their way. We’re not bad people, we’re just tired and want to sit down. It’s all done with the best of intentions. It’s a bit like a sport. But what we don’t need, Mr Nasty Tie, is to stand in the aisle with a line of similarly weary travellers behind us, while you grumpily look surprised that anyone else should dare to want a seat. Should dare to suggest your poor bag and document are less deserving of that seat than the person who has paid a small fortune for it with their rail fare. It’s really rather annoying when you are asked politely whether that seat is free, and you look at the newly arrived commuter as if he has just asked if he can rifle through your pockets, steal all your money and request a piggy back to the buffet car to buy armfuls of M&Ms and sausage rolls. Just move your shit quickly and politely. That’s all I ask. 

A good 'Rant-a-Long'

Really talented people can even rant through the gift of song.Musician Dave Carroll had his guitars damaged by United Airlines, and used YouTube to vent his frustrations with this catchy ditty. It's so far received over 6,000,000 views and been a PR nightmare for the airline. Well done Dave.

Monday, 7 December 2009

What a load of rubbish

Is there a lower form of life anywhere on earth than those Neanderthal morons who work at the local tip? Never in all my life have I encountered such an ignorant, rude and condescending collective waste of breath. What’s amazing is that they are exactly the same wherever you happen to live. It’s as if they have to go through a rigorous training programme to become a fully qualified household waste recycling cretin. Just this Sunday I was witness to a perfectly pleasant man, who politely asked where he should dispose of his waste. To see the expression on the face of the little Hitler by the skip, you would have thought the man had asked if he could sodomise his daughter.

Should any tip employees happen to read this, or have it read aloud to them by their carer, can I just say, ‘we are all literate you know?’ When we walk past the clearly labelled signs reading ‘wood. Paper. Metals’ etc and ask for your advice on where to dispose of our old piece of furniture, we know it doesn’t belong in the garden waste container. However we want to be certain which is the correct container to put it in.  It might be, for instance, that we believe that Granny’s old armchair may have been made from an open cell flexible polyurethane foam, and there is potentially more than one option. What we don’t need is your eyes rolling in despair at our sheer stupidity before whispering a mumbled answer that no mere mortal could possibly hear, thus forcing us to ask the question again, which somehow gives you permission to scream with barely concealed rage “NUMBER TWELVE MATE! NUMBER TWWWEEEELVVVE!” Obviously your closest colleague will then look to the sky with disbelief at our foolishness in an act of camaraderie amongst gits.

Surely everybody’s experience would be significantly improved if members of this hideous breed were to remove the two enormous chips from their shoulders and accept that it is not our fault that they spend their days up to their elbows in rubbish. I dare say it’s not the best way to spend your working career, but it was their choice and trying to belittle everybody else who enters their domain doesn’t hide the fact that it is done because they so wish they were doing something else. In much the same way that the school bullies always pick on the clever kids, this bunch of bleached hair sporting, earring wearing, tattoo adorned monkeys try to intimidate those higher up the food chain than themselves i.e. everybody else.

May I suggest there is a government cull of these offences to human nature and we dump them all in one enormous container called ‘Waste of space.’?

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Gentlemen, approach with caution.

A genuine letter, sent to Procter & Gamble:

Dear Mr. Thatcher,

I have been a loyal user of your 'Always' maxi pads for over 20 years and I appreciate many of their features. Why, without the LeakGuard Core or Dri-Weave absorbency, I'd probably never go horseback riding or salsa
dancing, and I'd certainly steer clear of running up and down the beach in tight, white shorts. But my favorite feature has to be your revolutionary Flexi-Wings. Kudos on being the only company smart enough to realize how crucial it is that maxi pads be aerodynamic. I can't tell
you how safe and secure I feel each month knowing there's a little F-16 in my pants.

Have you ever had a menstrual period, Mr. Thatcher? Ever suffered from the curse'? I'm guessing you haven't. Well, my time of the month is starting right now. As I type, I can already feel hormonal forces
violently surging through my body. Just a few minutes from now, my body will adjust and I'll be transformed into what my husband likes to call 'an inbred hillbilly with knife skills.' Isn't the human body amazing?

As Brand Manager in the Feminine-Hygiene Division, you've no doubt seen quite a bit of research on what exactly happens during your customer's
monthly visits from 'Aunt Flo'. Therefore, you must know about the bloating, puffiness, and cramping we endure, and about our intense mood swings, crying jags, and out-of-control behavior. You surely realize it's a tough time for most women. In fact, only last week, my friend Jennifer fought the violent urge to shove her boyfriend's testicles into
a George Foreman Grill just because he told her he thought Grey's Anatomy was written by drunken chimps. Crazy!

The point is, sir, you of all people must realize that America is just crawling with homicidal maniacs in Capri pants.. Which brings me to the reason for my letter. Last month, while in the throes of cramping so painful I wanted to reach inside my body and yank out my uterus, I opened an Always maxi-pad, and there, printed on the adhesive backing, were these words: 'Have a Happy Period.'

Are you f------ kidding me? What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness - actual smiling, laughing happiness, is possible during a menstrual period? Did anything mentioned above sound the least bit pleasurable? Well, did it, James? FYI, unless
you're some kind of sick S&M freak, there will never be anything 'happy' about a day in which you have to jack yourself up on Motrin and Kahlua and lock yourself in your house just so you don't march down to the local Walgreen's armed with a hunting rifle and a sketchy plan to end your life in a blaze of glory.

For the love of God, pull your head out, man! If you have to slap a moronic message on a maxi pad, wouldn't it make more sense to say something that's actually pertinent, like 'Put down the 'put down the hammer or 'Vehicular Manslaughter is Wrong', or are you just picking on us?

Sir, please inform your Accounting Department that, effective immediately, there will be an $8 drop in monthly profits, for I have chosen to take my maxi-pad business elsewhere. And though I will certainly miss your Flex-Wings, I will not for one minute miss your brand of condescending bullshit. And that's a promise I will keep.
Always. . .

Wendi Aarons
Austin , TX

Friday, 4 December 2009

Just tell me who you are?

Is it too much to ask for a website to be upfront about what it is? This blog is called 'rant' for instance, and you won't be surprised to find out that it is a place for people to have a rant. It is not a place to buy shoes, save polar bears, download music or look at people with no clothes on. It is what it says it is. A place to rant, moan, whinge, complain and generally get stuff off your chest. I mention this because of a rather embarrassing incident that happened to me yesterday. 

Whilst taking the 6.30pm train home after a hard days work I decided, through the marvels of modern technology, to check there that there were no other websites doing the same thing as this one. There are a couple of ranting sites set up by Wisconsin based teenagers to complain about things I'm far too old to understand, but none as far as I can find that are an open forum, inviting others to contribute. So far, so good. Unfortunately during my research I clicked upon one particular site with the word rant in (I won't tell you the rest for reasons that will become apparent), and was given rather a shock. As I was sat on the full commuter train, iPhone in hand, I shared a polite smile with the young lady to my left while the page loaded, a mutually understood gesture that said 'Hello, please don't talk to me, I'm English.' Imagine, if you will, my horror when an image filled my screen that, frankly will stay with me for some considerable time to come. Two men, one with a moustache, neither with clothes and if I say that one of them was 'playing  the trumpet', you'll start to build a picture. I immediately pressed the bookmarks page to load another site, any other site, but of course now the screen was frozen, a little ball whirring round on top of the two close friends, teasing me. I had to then hold the phone, screen covered, while the browser eventually loaded a new page, once it was good and ready. On top of the shock, and colossal embarrassment my phone is now probably loaded with dirty cookies, and I will become not only the recipient of endless spam emails of an unsuitable nature, but also fall under the watch of 'Operation Ooh I say!' of Scotland yard.

Now if that web site had had a more relevant name, I would not have gone near it with a barge pole, and the poor woman sat next to me on the train would not have had the unsettling experience of wondering why the man next to her was holding his phone by his ankles.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Not another bloody blog

An apt title for what is, in essence, a completely needless entity. Why oh why would anybody think there was a need for yet another pointless blog in the cyberverse? There are so many other useful things I could be doing with my time; working, finding Christmas presents for my kids, exercising, feeding my mind, thinking of ways to create world peace. But no, I thought I would try and create a blog where people can moan, whinge, complain and generally attack whatever it happens to be that's making their life worse at that particular moment in time. Why? Because, it's immensely satisfying, therapeutic even, to get these things off our chests. Who doesn't want to scream obscenities at the cold caller who's ringing from Mumbai to discuss the weather, before trying to sell you life insurance? Or castigate the customer service representative who tells you your new fridge is out of stock and can't be delivered for another three weeks, even though you bought the display model. As nice as it would be to throttle the inventor of the automated answering machine, the reality is writing down our feelings is our only real outlet for these everyday, unnecessary, hideous frustrations. Not only do I personally find it cathartic to write down with great vengeance and furious anger, in the safe knowledge that it won't result in a punch in the mouth from the recipient, but I also find it enormously satisfying to read the literary tongue-lashings of others. It reminds me that I am not alone in being generally dissatisfied with with world at it's worst, but it is often done with far more wit and imagination than the beneficiary deserves. This led me to the conclusion that there should be home for these outpourings. Somewhere we can all retreat to and berate whoever, and whatever we see fit. And if it is done with humour and panache, then others may just want to read it. Indeed if I, or anybody else should come upon a suitably entertaining rant, then post it here, for it will find a welcome home. All of this led me to the conclusion that the best place to house these diatribes would be a dedicated blog. And that, dear reader, is why there is another bloody blog in the world.